2000 Laureates

John D. Tickle

John Tickle is a native of Bristol, the son of John W. Tickle and the late Irene Tickle. He attended Bristol, Tennessee public schools while learning about business ownership from his father who owned a sign-making company. John attended ETSU and the U.S. Naval Academy. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1965.

John is married to Ann Meadlock Tickle and they reside in Bristol, Virginia He has two sons, John D. (Spike) Tickle II, who lives in Bristol, Virginia, and Jeffery E Tickle Rochester, Minnesota. He has one stepdaughter, Cindy Akard, an attorney, who lives in New York City. He has one grandson, Jeffrey Edward Tickle II, of Rochester. John is an avid golfer, sports fan and a loyal supporter and fan of the University ofTennessee.

In 1965, John Tickle joined Owens-Corning Fiberglas. It was there that he began his career in fiberglass composites and became familiar and acquainted with industry pioneer Robert Morrison. Two years later, John left OCF to become General Manager of Justin Enterprises in Cincinnati. In 1969 he moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and was Plant Manager of Krueger Metal Enterprises, an institutional furniture manufacturing operation. He was employed there until April of 1972.

When Robert Morrison acquired Bristol's composite plant in 1971, one of the first management decisions he made was to call John Tickle and ask him to run his new company, MMFG. The year was 1972. The place was Bristol, Virginia. The company was MMFG, a reinforced plastics company with $1 million in annual sales and 125 employees. The man was John Tickle, brought in to be president and general manager. Tickle was 30 years old."

Today John is president of Strongwell headquartered in Bristol, Virginia. Strongwell currently has three operating divisions with five plants located throughout the United States. In 1993, after months of negotiations, he, along with his two sons and a local outside investor, purchased MMFG from Shell Polymers Ventures, Inc.

Tickle has made a tremendous contribution to the entire region, both in terms of his financial resources and personal involvement. His community involvement includes the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Bristol, Sequoyah Council Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, Country Club of Bristol, Boys Club of Bristol, Signet Bank, and First Union Bank, the American Red Cross, Bristol Life Saving Crew, East Tennessee State University Foundation, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Bristol Regional Medical Center and its Foundation, and the Bristol Economic Development Partnership Fund Drive.

During John's 1988 term as President of the Board of Directors of the Bristol Regional Medical Center, the decision was made to build the new medical center. John led the efforts to incorporate the BRMC Foundation and served on its first board. In 1996, John was recipient of the Citizen Hall of Fame Award, presented by the Bristol Regional Medical Center Foundation.

John has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Tri-Cities Executive of the Year, United Way's Outstanding Volunteer, Pultrusion Industry Council's Award of Excellence, and the Greater Tri-Cities Business Award-Executive of the Year. The Mountain Empire Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives named John "Philanthropist of the Year" in 1994 and "Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser" in 1995. The 1994 Eagle Class of Boy Scouts of America was named in his honor. John was selected to serve as a member of the UT School of Engineering Advisory Board.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Business Magazine presented The Torchbearers: Business Leaders of the New Millennium, in December 1999. The one-time awards were "to identify visionary business leaders who were transforming the business landscape of Virginia with new products, new services, new management practices, or other innovations." John Tickle was named the "Torchbearer for Western Virginia."

The year is 2000. "Under John Tickle's leadership, Strongwell has grown to be the world's largest producer of structural fiber-reinforced polymer composites using the pultrusion process. Strongwell's composites are used in such applications as decking for offshore drilling platforms, bridge decks, and beams. Strongwell is also the nation's largest precaster of polymer concrete. Strongwell Corporation employs over 1000. Strongwell's position of industry leadership is due in large measure to John Tickle's commitment to innovation, quality, growth and his community of Bristol."